After major immigration raid, Ohio bishop decries ‘broken system’

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The U.S. immigration system is broken and in need of reform, said the Bishop of Cleveland after more than 100 immigrants were arrested by authorities on Tuesday.

“This latest event in Erie County again makes clear that our current immigration system contributes to the human suffering of migrants and the separation of families,” said Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland.

“The bishops of the Catholic Church have a duty to point out the moral consequences of a broken system.”

On June 5, about 200 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents held a sting operation at two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center. Authorities arrested 114 undocumented immigrants.

Those arrested are likely to receive criminal charges for tax evasion and identity theft. No charges have been brought against the company, but a large number of business documents were confiscated and an investigation is under way, according to the Associated Press.

While recognizing “the role of our government in enforcing current immigration law,” Bishop Perez also voiced “great sadness for the families whose lives have been disrupted following the large-scale immigration action.”

Corso’s is a gardening company with locations in seven states. The family-owned business offers landscaping services and grows annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and other types of plants.

A red flag was raised last October when a woman was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol for giving stolen identity documents to job applicants, leading authorities to Corso’s. The records of 313 employees were then examined and 123 people were marked for suspicious behavior. Some Social Security numbers were found to be taken from dead people.

Bishop Perez expressed concern for the families who may be separated as a result of the immigration raid. These sufferings point to a broken system, he said.

“The Church is advocating for comprehensive and compassionate reform of our immigration system so that persons are able to obtain legal status in our country and enter the United States legally to work and support their families. Since this is a responsibility of our Congress, I would encourage you to speak with your legislators advocating for reform of our present system.”

The bishop encouraged his audience to pray that these families may stay together and concluded his statement recalling the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew.

“We do this remembering the words of Jesus as he calls upon us to ‘welcome the stranger,’ for ‘what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me’,” he said.

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